Jackie Wilkinson is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Upland Hills Health. She is the Coordinator of the Diabetes Self Management Program which helps individuals manage diabetes to live long, healthy lives. To learn more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
When you have diabetes, your main goal should be controlling your blood sugars. If you don’t do this and blood sugars rise, you run the risk of developing serious health problems such as stroke, heart disease, and nerve damage.
The hard part is that not everyone can feel a physical symptom of high blood sugars, and if you do feel something, it may be different than what others feel. Because blood sugar management is so important to your overall health with diabetes, you need to take action if you think your blood sugars are out of control.
Keep an eye out for these ten key warning signs and symptoms of elevated blood sugars (whether you have diabetes or not) and talk to your Primary Care Physician or Certified Diabetes Educator about whether you need to adjust your management plan.
- Increased thirst. Oftentimes elevated blood sugars can cause the body to become dehydrated and dizziness may occur.
- Increased hunger, especially after you just ate. Since your body is not getting energy from carbohydrates, you start to feel hungrier.
- Dry mouth. The dehydration caused by elevated blood sugars can cause dry mouth.
- Frequent urination. This occurs when glucose (sugar) builds up in your blood, and your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of the excess sugar. If your kidneys can’t keep up, the excess sugar is flushed out of your body through urine.
- Unexplained weight loss. Since your body is not getting energy from the its preferred source, carbohydrates, it has to turn to use muscle and fat for energy. When your body starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy, you experience unintentional and unhealthy weight loss. You may also notice weakness in your muscles and experience more frequent falls.
- Fatigue. When your body is not processing insulin properly or it doesn’t have sufficient amounts of insulin, the sugar is staying in your blood rather than getting into your cells to be used for energy. The result is lower energy, which you feel as fatigue.
- Blurry vision. High blood sugar levels can lead to swollen lenses in your eye from fluid leaking in. This changes the shape of the lens, which makes it unable to properly focus, causing blurry vision.
- Tingling or numbness. High blood sugars can damage nerves throughout the body, particularly those that affect sensation in the hands or feet. Numbness and tingling may point to nerve damage.
- Sores that heal slowly. High blood sugars cause nerve damage and affects circulation, especially in the lower legs and feet, which can slow down healing because there isn’t enough blood flow to the area. Even minor wounds are more prone to infections, which can become very serious and even result in amputations of the foot.
- Unusual breath. Many people with uncontrolled diabetes notice that their breath smells fruity, or very sweet.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or not, these symptoms could be signs that your blood sugars are not controlled or healthy. Any of these symptoms, especially if they come on suddenly, are reasons to call your primary care provider.